Xconomy’s First Poll: If You Had $10 Million…You’d Invest In Cleantech! Say What?

11/7/07Follow @bbuderi

Last week, in our usual understated fashion, we here at Xconomy launched a new poll widget. It’s just another in a growing line of features—such as our recent podcasts and News Xpress offerings—that we like to drop into the site to hopefully engage and inform our readers (News Xpress is taking off, but I think we’re still waiting for someone to actually listen to one of our stories).

But back to our poll. We started with a simple question: If you had $10 million to invest in a New England growth cluster, what would you chose (in alphabetical order): biotechnology, clean energy, mobile, robotics, or Web 2.0. And you resoundingly answered (both of you—well, we actually got a fair number of responses) clean energy. A bit over half the votes (51 percent) went to this field, easily trouncing biotech (14 percent), Web 2.0 (14 percent), robotics (12 percent), and mobile (a scant 9 percent).

Which got me thinking…My own gut reaction is that our readers have it wrong. Given the incredible hype around cleantech, and the unknown time to fruition of many of these technologies, there is no way I would sink my precious $10 million in that field. In fact, my own fledgling theory, let’s call it a hypothesis, is that you would do much better if you flopped our survey results completely on their head. Your best payoffs would come first in mobile, then robotics, Web 2.0, biotech, and, lastly, clean energy.

That’s it—I have nothing else to say right now. We’re going to keep the poll up a while longer, both to see if my astute observations change the voting pattern (and also to give us time to think of another question). And if you’ve got a question you’d like to put to your fellow readers, please send it in to editors@xconomy.com.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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  • http://www.digitalinteractif.com Jon

    I had a tough time choosing between Mobile and Web 2.0. When I think of “cool” Mobile ideas these days, I instanly think of iPhone and the ability of a user to interact with Web 2.0 applications via their phone. In the end, I had to go with Web 2.0 but clearly there is huge potential for investments geared towards users of smartphones/iPhones. Therefore, the $10 million would have be invested in an online-based but Mobile-utilized application.

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  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/wroush/ Wade Roush

    Bob, it looks like your insights are swaying the readers already. It’s been about four hours since you posted, and Clean Energy is now down to 48 percent. It’s given up ground to Web 2.0 and Biotech (and interestingly, Web 2.0 has pulled into second place).

  • http://www.commonangels.com James Geshwiler

    The challenge with most “clean energy” projects is they are too capital intensive for such a relatively small amount of money. With both the infrastructure requirements of creating manufacturing assets, distribution networks, and in some cases such as fuel cells, supply chains as well, an initial investment of say $100k (remember, you need capital for follow-on rounds PLUS be able to build a portfolio of at least a dozen and maybe two dozen companies) isn’t going to buy you or the company much. Rather, that $100k is likely to suffer heavy dilution from other sources of capital. Mobile or Web 2.0 would fare much better where the capital requirements are lower and you’re more likely to build a portfolio that can generate a return. If you had a $500M pool of money, it’s a totally different game, particularly if there is access to 2-5x in friendly sources of debt b/c energy tends to involve optimizing WACC and not using pure equity….happy investing!

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